Yet again, Ohio State University President Gordon Gee has put his foot in his mouth. And yet again Americans everywhere are enraged. In the December meeting of the university’s athletic council, Gee said Notre Dame has never been invited to join the Big Ten Conference because its priests don’t play nice.
“The fathers are holy on Sunday, and they’re holy hell the rest of the week,” he said, according to a recording of the December meeting. “You just can’t trust those damn Catholics on a Thursday or a Friday, and so, literally, I can say that.”
According to an audio recording obtained by the AP, when asked how to respond to Southeastern Conference fans who say the Big Ten can’t count because it now has 14 members, he replied, “You tell the SEC when they can learn to read and write, then they can figure out what we’re doing.”
This wasn’t the first time Gee has been in the news with offensive comments. He apologized for the comments in a statement to the AP. “The comments I made were just plain wrong, and in no way do they reflect what the university stands for,” he said. “They were a poor attempt at humor and entirely inappropriate.”
Why these particular comments are making such a splash now, I’m not sure. But, like most of Gee’s thoughts, people have something to say about it.
Twitter is littered with jokes about the president. A couple favorites:
But many other people have not found as much humor in Gee’s tendency to risk it all for a laugh.
Andy Staples, staff writer at Sports Illustrated and a University of Florida alumnus, wrote a colorful article about Gee’s most recent comments. “In Gee’s defense, he probably once knew that ‘the SEC’ is a singular entity and that he should have used ‘it’ instead of ‘they,’ but six years spent at an SEC school — the good one, no less — probably siphoned off the brain cells that control plural-singular agreement,” he said.
You get the idea. People clearly have an opinion about anything that comes out of this man’s mouth — I haven’t even given a preview of the comment sections on any of these articles. But does Gee deserve all the flack?
Granted he is a public figure, and at this point should understand that the media will find out about and publish all of his “jokes.” But should the media actually publicize all of his offensive comments? Wouldn’t we save a lot of trouble if we weren’t constantly checking Twitter to find something else to be offended by? Gee’s comments, offensive as they were, were made in a private meeting. The internet is great for spreading news quickly, but how newsworthy is every thing that Ohio State’s president says?
I’m not excusing his insensitivity, and as one of the highest-profile university presidents in the country he should absolutely know better. What I am saying is that maybe we should care less. There’s plenty to be offended about without digging up recordings of a private university meeting last December.